Church and the Arrow of Time

First, watch this video that explains what the arrow of time is:

Did you watch it? There’s also a wikipedia article on it, of which I understand about 17%. 

We are compelled to travel into the future. That’s because the arrow of time dictates that as each moment passes, things change. And once these changes happen, they are never undone.

And then there’s the church. This morning I listened to a recording of the Diane Rehm show from about a month ago. She interviewed the newest Bishop of Washington, the Rt. Rev. Marianne BuddeThere was one caller who asked the bishop to explain what the Episcopal church is, and I listened to her give the response that I probably would’ve given myself: a history lesson. (King Henry VIII, Church of England, American Revolution) Knowing where we come from is important, but I really wished that she or I could come up with an answer to that question that was more present focused: tell me about the church today

Of the many callers, there were two presumable baby boomers who expressed dis-sasatifaction with the Episcopal Church and referenced a stronger, healthier Episcopal Church from their childhood. I was born in the 80’s so I’ll just take their word for it. The church that was. *sigh*

There’s nothing about the laws of physics … that prevent [the molecules] from all getting together on the surface of the lake, jumping out of the water, sticking together into a block of ice and then gluing themselves back to the surface of the glacier again. But, interestingly, we do understand why the world doesn’t run in reverse. There’s a reason, and it’s called the arrow of time.

I don’t want to claim that all change is good. Issues still need to be thoroughly debated and teased out. Change happens and our strength doesn’t lie in resisting it, but in marrying the bloodline of our traditions with the present.   

I think the church should function like a dance partner – the leading one, which, for the sake of tradition, we’ll say is usually a dude. It’s not just a matter of reacting to the music, but leaning into and offering it our best. 

Sometimes I feel like certain churches are trying to waltz while the world is playing a swing song. “But the waltz is a great dance!” they insist. 

The mystery of faith notes the past, present and future: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. There are things that need to happen in 2012. 2011 would’ve been too soon and 2013 will be too late. (That’s not a Mayan joke.) It’s the arrow of time. 


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